In "Human Body Network Gets Fast," Technology Research News tells us that NTT Docomo researchers in Japan have created a 10-Mbit/second indoor network by using human bodies as Ethernet cables.
The network, dubbed ElectAura-Net, is wireless, but instead of using radio waves, infrared light, or microwaves to transmit information it uses a combination of the electric field that emanates from humans and a similar field emanating from special floor tiles.
The network is faster than commercially available personal area networks like the 1-megabit-per-second Bluetooth radio wave system, and tops the 4-megabits-per-second infrared standard set by the Infrared Data Association (IrDA).
The researchers introduced their work during SIGGRAPH 2003. More information is available from their website.
ElectAura-Net also provides indoor positioning, which is urgently needed for "ubiquitous" communication.
ElectAura-Net provides both broadband wireless(-like) networks and a meter-accuracy positioning system for indoor use. It is a kind of "intrabody communication" system that uses electric fields as transmission media, and the human body and floor as an Ethernet cable. In this system, a "communication-cell" (carpet size) can be shrunk down to one meter or less, and simultaneous access by many users can be realized. Ordinary intrabody communication systems cannot achieve long-distance communication between components such as body-worn devices and the floor.
The ElectAura-Net team is developing a miniaturized and higher-speed intrabody communication system. They are also developing a large-scale floor network with automatic map generation to realize a "ubiquitous" communication system in which people and objects are connected by just standing on a carpet.
The researchers think that this is a solution for "ubiquitous" communication, using GPS outdoor and our bodies indoor.
There are great expectations for "ubiquitous communication" in which everyone and all objects are always connected to the network. Outdoors, we can use cellular-data networks and GPS systems. But so far, there is no effective solution for indoor situations. ElectAura-Net overcomes the indoor limitations by providing easy-to-use, high-speed access to the network and accurate, reliable positioning.
Sources: Technology Research News, October 17, 2003; SIGGRAPH 2003 website
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